Team India's tailenders have highest number of fifties (8) scored since January 2019 among all the Test playing nations. India's tailenders have also complied 180 runs in The Oval test against England which is third-highest since January 2019.
Test cricket is the longest format of the game. It could also be said that it is also the most happening format of the game. The game situation changes astonishingly in a Test match from session to session.
On occasions, tailenders (number 8-11 batsmen) play a key role to change the direction of the match with their batting like we saw how in the recently concluded match at the Kennington Oval, number eight player Shardul Thakur made a huge impact on the match outcome with his blistering twin fifties.
Also, England bowling-allrounder Chris Woakes helped his team to reach a decent total of 290 in the first innings of the Oval Test by registering a fifty.
In this context, it would be worthwhile to gauge the performance of tailenders in Test cricket over the period from January 1, 2019 to September 8, 2021.
Record of Tailenders of Test Nations from the Start of 2019
WTC 2019-21 winning New Zealand’s Tailenders average 24.56 over the last three years
As one compares the records of tailenders of all Test teams in the above chart, one could easily gauge that tailenders from New Zealand cricket team have a phenomenal record over the last three years.
They average 24.56 from the start of 2019, which is around eight runs more than the second-ranked West Indies team who average 16.27 over the same timeframe. Tailenders from West Indies, India, Bangladesh and Australia all average more than 15 as we can see in the above chart.
India’s tailenders have the highest number of fifties (8) to their credit over the last three years
India’s tailenders have cracked eight half-centuries in the stipulated timeframe, higher than any other team, along with one century by Ravichandran Ashwin. Shardul Thakur struck two back to back half centuries against England in the fourth Test of the ongoing series. West Indies tailenders rank second in the list, scoring five half-centuries during the given timeframe. Significantly, West Indies skipper Jason Holder scored a double century in January 2019 in Bridgetown against England while playing at the number eight position.
Sri Lanka tailenders average the lowest (11.8) in the given timeframe with only one fifty in their bag. Sri Lanka, South Africa (12.93) and England (13.46) tailenders would like to improve their performance in their upcoming games in the context of the ever-changing dynamics of the present-day realities of Test cricket.
Top Ten Run-Scorers among Test Tailenders (8-11)
Jason Holder, leading run-scorer among tailenders with 467 runs at 38.91 over the last three years
When we look at the top ten run-scorers among tailenders in the above chart, West Indies skipper Jason Holder is the highest run-scorer among tailenders from the start of 2019. Holder packed a punch much above his weight in January 2019 with a blistering 202* (229) against England in Bridgetown, Barbados. His knock included 23 hits to the fence and eight maximums which resulted in him scoring a double ton. This boosted his run-tally to 467 runs in nine Test over the given timeframe.
England bowling all-rounder Sam Curran is placed at the second position in the list with 366 runs to his credit in 14 Test appearances. No player from India features in the top ten run-scorers amongst tailenders.
South Africa, England and West Indies have two players each in the top ten run-scorers’ table of tailenders.
Highest Test Batting Average for Tailenders (8-11)
If we put in a qualifier of a minimum of 10 Test appearances over the stipulated timeframe, Australia left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc and New Zealand seamer Trent Boult lead the table with batting averages of 30.44 and 25 respectively.
The teammate of Boult, Neil Wagner has also scored 174 runs over the same time period with an average of 24.85 in 13 Test appearances. Two players from India, Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammed Shami, also register their names in the table of highest averaging tailenders.
Mohammed Shami recently struck a half-century at Lord’s against England in August 2021. South Africa spinner Keshav Maharaj cracked three half-centuries in the given timeframe. India, England and New Zealand all have two players each in the list of top run-scorers amongst tailenders with a minimum of 10 Test appearances.
When Tailenders (8-11) won the test match for team
Most runs by tailenders in winning causes; Jason Holder steals the limelight
Here, we gauge a few instances where tailenders accumulated a high proportion of runs to assist their team to win a Test.
Earlier this year in July 2021, Bangladesh tailenders turned the tables against Zimbabwe to help their team to win a Test by scoring 225 runs between themselves in Harare.
There is a catch here, however. In that match, former middle-order batsman Mahmudullah, playing in his last Test, came in at number 8 with his team at 132/6. He went on to smash an unbeaten 150 runs and announced his retirement on a high. He was ably assisted by the number 10 batsman Taskin Ahmed who scored 75 runs. They took their team to a more than respectable 468 in the end and that eventually was the difference between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in that Test.
West Indies tailenders take the second spot in the list but actually make for the most impactful performance by tailenders in a winning cause in a Test played in the given timeframe. They scored 207 runs amongst themselves against England at Bridgetown in Barbados in January 2019.
As mentioned earlier, West Indies skipper Jason Holder slammed his first double ton in this Test to help his team defeat England.
In late 2019, New Zealand tailenders piled up 147 runs against England at Mount Maunganui to help their team to vanquish their opponents. Spinner Mitchell Santner played a major role by hammering an astonishing century (126).
Pakistan defeated South Africa in Karachi by seven wickets earlier this year as the tailenders contributed to the team cause to collect 147 runs.
India trounced England by a huge margin of 317 runs in Chennai where tailenders played a key role by amassing 141 runs. Veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin scored his fifth century (106) in this Test while playing at the number eight position.
Tailenders need to upskill in the batting department in the present context
In the present-day cricketing world, there is a lot of pressure on top-order batsmen to score runs and score them at a quick pace, what with the ever-burgeoning T20 format and the advent of The Hundred. In the prevailing scenario, batsmen tend to play more shots than they would have in the past. This results in many situations where they fold up quite soon, at times even before their team reaches the three-figure mark.
In this very context, tailenders are burdened with the additional responsibility of standing up for their team’s cause even in the batting department. If they upskill in this department, they could influence the result of Tests by contributing significantly to the team total.